Thangka painting association established in Tibet

LHASA, Oct. 12 (Xinhua) -- An association for the promotion of thangka painting has been established in southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region, in a move that will help protect the national intangible cultural heritage artform.

After being approved by the region's civil affairs department, the Tibet Thangka Association was officially established on Sunday in Lhasa, the region's capital city.

So far, 14 enterprises and 280 individuals have applied for membership in the association.

Thangka is a type of Tibetan Buddhist scroll painting. Pigments are derived from mineral and organic materials such as coral, sapphires, pearls and gold to preserve the color for centuries, and the paint is applied to cotton or silk.

In 2006, thangka was listed as a type of national cultural heritage, a status that has since boosted the artform.

"The development of the thangka industry has played a unique role in promoting employment, entrepreneurship and tourism," said Ngawang Jigme, head of the association.

He said the association should train more young thangka painters, promote artistry, carry out more research, and work to carry forward thangka culture.

Since 2006, the country has spent a total of 209 million yuan (about 32.4 million U.S. dollars) on the protection of intangible cultural heritage in Tibet, according to a white paper released earlier this year.